Botin warns red tape will stop banks lending

Tim Wallace
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SANTANDER’S UK boss said she is trying to lend more to small businesses, but warned excessive regulation will stop banks taking risk and so stop growth taking off.

Ana Botin said the bank’s strategy is to shift away from mortgage lending and into small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

But although the government wants more SME lending, she said it is also getting in the way.

“The spirit of enterprise and innovation is what made Britain great,” she said. But “laws, regulations and still less directives do not create entrepreneurs.”

Meanwhile Prudential boss Tidjane Thiam told the Institute of Directors’ conference that firms should look to Africa for growth in the very long term.

“The 22nd century will be the African century,” he said.

“The median age in western Europe is 41, versus 27 in south east Asia and 18 in sub-Saharan Africa.”